Help yourself relax into Emily Henson’s latest book–‘Life Unstyled’ @bohosusan
BoHo Home

London stylist Emily Henson’s latest book—Life Unstyled: How to Embrace Imperfection and Create a Home You Love—is really a self-help book disguised with photos of home interiors.

Fun BOHO home interiors, which link it to Henson’s previous book, Bohemian Modern. And if boho is what gets your heart singing, as it does mine, then you’ll want to own both volumes, as I do.

Life Unstyled is also the name of Henson’s blog, and she created both the blog and the book to further the cause of realism at home.
“As an interior stylist, I create perfectly styled images for my clients in order to sell their products,” she writes, “but the truth is that these pictures don’t represent real life. It’s all a bit of fiction and fantasy…intended to inspire but also setting impossiby high standards of perfection.”

Her solution? Live stylishly, but make room for imperfection

The first third of the book illustrates how:        
  • Work with what you’ve got.
  • Live with signs of life. 
  • Embrace good clutter. 
  • Paint is your friend. 
  • Break the rules. 
  • Put creativity before consumption.
Good lessons all, and in the final two-thirds of the book Henson takes us inside homes where the owners have put these admonitions to work. All totaled, it’s 160 pages of ideas on how to do the same in your home.

Favorite photos from the book & why they resonate: @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo

What I like most about this room is how the bookshelves are styled—or not, as the case may be. Some books are upright and some are stacked, but all can be easily removed from the shelf and read, then put away. There are no actual bookends, but the homeowner has repurposed other objects to serve in that capacity.

My favorites are:
  • The stack of pretty teacups
  • The collection of green bottles
  • The bowl of photos
  • The globe
  • The bowling pin

These items may or may not strike a chord with you, but…

  • The teacups jumped out at me because I got rid of similar items when I downsized. They were teacups inherited from my husband’s family. How I wish I’d thought to display them like this!
  • Ditto with the green bottles. I wish I still had my collection of Jamestown handblown glass. We’d bought those pieces on various vacations to national parks, and seeing these green bottles reminded me of my own.
  • I don’t own a bowling pin, but if I did it would remind me of my dad, an ardent bowler, who passed nearly three years ago.
  • I’m not much for displaying framed photos on the wall or a shelf, but a pretty bowl filled with snapshots? Now that’s something else. I might try that since I’m always looking for reasons to buy pretty, colorful ceramics.
  • The globe reminded me of being a kid again and waiting for the Christmas catalogs to arrive. My mother would give me an allowance, and I could pick out what I wanted Santa to bring. I always considered a globe but every time nixed it in favor of something else I wanted more—poor lonely globe!
The point is, nothing in this room looks new or expensive. But the room itself is warm and comfortable. It stands ready like a hug to welcome all who enter. @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo

This bedroom and my own have lots in common. We also have two hand-me-down chairs that are usually piled and/or draped with colorful quilts and other linens. Sometimes the linens are waiting to be put away. Maybe I got them out to see how they would look somewhere but neglected to put them away, and so they ended up becoming part of the look of the room. It’s not a bad look.

I really like the wallpaper in this room that’s mounted high like a towel rack and unrolled. What a great way to lead the eye up to those high ceilings and fill some of that cavernous space. I’m a person who doesn’t like the idea of pasting printed wallpaper to my walls, even though I love looking at wallpaper patterns. This is a way I could use wallpaper and change it out when I tired of it. Consider this idea: three rolls—either in the same or coordinating patterns—hung as a headboard or behind a headboard. They could be mounted even or at different heights. @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo
Haha! This reminds me of my sofa. Colorful quilts are a great way to hide worn or damaged upholstery. My sofa’s only a few years old, but I have three kantha quilts on it covering spots my cat likes to scratch—the arms and across the bottom front. For some reason, she won’t scratch the quilts. I can take them off for visitors if I want, but actually, I like the relaxed boho look they give the room. @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo

In this living room I love how the unfinished upper walls dotted with framed art seem to mimic the vintage print in the sofa and chairs. Most everything in this room could be thrifted to get that midcentury modern look on a budget.

If you’re lucky, maybe you inherited pieces similar to these. I remember wood-framed sofas (solid walnut, no less!) and stereo cabinets like this one from my childhood. Remove the turntable and repurpose as a console or bar cabinet. @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo

 My home is also so relaxed that the cat lays down anywhere—counters or table. I figure if someone doesn’t like that then don’t stay for coffee or dinner. She’s cleaner than most people, and BTW, it’s her home, too.

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the top of the table has been decoupaged and sealed. Think of all the favorite images, prints and colors you could bring into a room doing that. And what a way to get extended miles out of an old table, since it’s usually the top that experiences the most wear and tear. @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo
Speaking of pets making themselves at home, these pets on pillows are sure to warm any heart. The mirror’s hung too high for my tastes, but I do like how the dangling bulb pendants with differently shaped bulbs hang in front of it so the light is reflected. Think how inexpensively you could source the lights; all kinds of decorative cords and bulbs are available these days. @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo
I love how this old tub has been refurbished inside but left in its unfinished state on the outside. The towels look beautiful displayed around it as well. The stacked bricks substituting for legs look cool, but I’m a little concerned about stability. It also looks like a deep and relaxing soak, but how do you get in and out? Details… @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photos
This room sports wallpaper that resembles a painter’s drop cloth, and it makes a stunning background for the sofa upholstered in a mix of florals. @bohosusan
Debi Treloar photo
Changing out hardware is an easy way to give a piece of furniture a new look. But how about mixing the hardware up? Not one of these drawer pulls is the same as another. The look is fun, eclectic and vintage.

Yes, I still think this is a self-help book. Why?

Because it made me remember something a visitor to my place told me long ago, back when 90 percent of what I owned was hand-me-down, homemade, improvised, or used. She said she loved coming to my apartment because there was so much to look at and everything had a story.
And remembering that helps. This is a principle it’s easy to forget as we prosper and can afford more new stuff, but it’s a principle worth remembering to keep our sanity, our budget, and the planet healthy.

If you want more…

  •  Use the affiliate links below to order Life Unstyled and Henson’s other books for your very own.
  • Check out her blog, Life Unstyled, where you’ll also find links to her various social media feeds.
  • Follow my blog with Bloglovin, or sign up with one of the subscription services at the bottom of the page to receive emailed posts.